Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Sovereign of the Seas
Sailing Date: July 2nd, 2007
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
Well, I've heard cruises were great from many people, but now that I think of it, most did not have children, so things were a little difficult and rushed for us.
We set sail from Port Canaveral at 5pm and did not know we could actually get on board several hours before departure. (You can pick up a brochure to tell you what activities are going on when you board.) If we cruise again, I will get there 4-5 hours before departure time to enjoy the ship "welcome" activities and just wander around. We missed a lot for the kids and for us also. The check in and customs was easy and since we didn't know what to do, there were many people around to help w/ signs that were very plain to see. We arrived about 2:30pm and was on board by 3:30pm.
Once we boarded (do take a change of clothing, make-up and meds if needed) we found our room. Now, we had read many reviews before our trip about some of the floors smelling of sewer. Ours did! The carpet was wet and they had huge fans everywhere. The hallways smelled horrible, but our room was okay. We dropped off our things and went to the Guest Relations desk to check on an up-grade or being moved to another deck (we were on 2). Nothing was available because this cruise was packed! By the time we waited in line there, it was time for a muster drill (safety with lifejackets), so back down 2 floors to get our lifejackets. Kids do not do well with this especially with the heat. It took about 45 min. to 1 hour by the time everyone listened to what they were supposed to do. (That was a lot of the problem, people just don't listen, so it makes things more difficult for others.)
Then, we had to fight the crowd back down to our room (tiny bathroom size and you can't stand side by side to change, just in a single file row from the entrance to the small table between the cots.) and change or at least clean up a little for dinner, which was at 6pm. We did go on deck to watch us leave the dock area. In case you are interested, most people wore the clothing they came on board wearing. Some did do dresses for women and khaki's for men. Too much trouble for us. We wore shorts and my husband wore jeans. They will not let you in any dining area without a shirt and shorts/pants and shoes. They don't want men wearing tank tops either, but women could if they covered everything. (That is what we were told.)
Our dinner seating was in the Mirage dining Room and the food was good - - lots of it. The only thing was that it took a long time to get your food. The first night we were probably in the dining room for 1 1/2 to 2 hours and the same with the formal night. After that, we ate in the Windjammer (buffet style) and you could eat and get on with other things. So many things you want to do, not enough time to do them! Randy F. in the Windjammer was great with our children making animals and hats out of napkins. Angel was our waiter in the Mirage Dining Room and he was also great with "the princesses." We explored the rest of the night and didn't make it to the welcome aboard show I wish we could have) but due to a long dinner, we would have been very late!
We did go check into the Adventure Ocean place for children. I always said I would never leave them with someone I don't know on a ship, but they were the same age (8 and 9) and after meeting the staff, I felt a little at ease. We only used that program the last day of the trip because we just did not have time. The first time we left them for a 45 min. program and we went to the deck in front of their area and sat in peace and quiet. When we returned to get them they did not want to leave. (After 10pm there is a $5 per hour charge and if you are late picking your children up, it's like $1 per minute you are late, so don't forget a watch.) The second time the girls went, they were doing a carnival with games and had a dance. We let them stay over an hour while we went to the the comedy act and the farewell show. It was good. We didn't get to watch any others due to either being in the dining room or letting the kids use the pool.
Let me tell you about the room. My husband is about 6 ft. tall and he could stretch his arms out and touch both walls (which were the pull down bunk beds at night) The bathroom is for one - okay 2, if one is in the shower the other uses the sink. If you are sitting on the commode, both elbows can reach the sides. Only 2 plug ins in the room (and one specifically for electric razors in the bathroom.)
I definitely recommend patches for nausea. I was told to stay in the center section of the ship, which we did, but I could barley stand up at times due to the rocking motion (and I do not drink alcohol! I guess I felt like I had been drinking.) I get motion sick very easily, so I used the patches which helped some. If I was on deck looking out, I didn't feel any rocking motion, but if I could not see, I felt every turn and tilt. My 8 year old even complained of a sick tummy so I gave her 1/4 of a patch which helped her some.
Coco Cay was the first island we stopped at. You could walk the entire island. Many activities there. We took our own snorkeling equipment but had to rent a vest ($6 each). I think all the equipment was about $25 per person. You can't see anything near the shore, you have to go out past the rocks. We didn't make it to the wreckage, but we did see starfish, sting rays, and many beautifully colored fish. I loved it. The girls, who had no problem snorkeling at home in a deep pool, panicked, so we had to go one at a time. We could have let them stay with the Adventure Ocean staff who comes off the ship and entertains the children under the trees and uses a water hose to keep them cooled off. (but we only saw smaller children maybe up to age 5 there and I really didn't feel comfortable leaving them that far away from us.) Now, if you sat in the plentiful hammocks, they are close to the children's play place. We ate a buffet style lunch - hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, desserts, pasta salads, etc. There are flies that swarm this area, and they use fans to help keep them away, but I would suggest eating as soon as it is ready (about 12).
We stayed on the island from about 10 (long lines to get over via ferry boat) until 3:30 (again long lines) plus we had to get back to change for formal night. (Oh yes, photo opportunities are available everywhere and you can purchase your photos on the specified deck 4X6's with a border $9.95, size 8X10 were $19.95. I thought expensive, but I bought a few from formal night and one on Coco Cay. I had my camera on Nassau, so did not purchase those. They take your photos when you board, when you leave, on the islands if they find you, and doing ship activities. Even in the dining rooms.
Let's see....what else? It rained and you could see storms, so it appeared to us that the captain was trying to avoid any rain. It felt like we were zig-zagg-ing but we got rain several times.
In Nassau, we did not do shore excursions. I looked them up online before we left and we decided to do our own. We walked (about 3 blocks) to Fort Fincastle and the Queen's Staircase (worth it), then back to Bay Street shops. To the boat for lunch (since it was already paid for and because I'm a big budget person). Well, back to our cabin to unload a little and back to the straw market (the people like to bargain with you over items, but I noticed a lot were made in China) and over to a small beach area. WEAR SHOES. The beach closest to the dock had broken glass everywhere on it. I now wished we would have taken a Jitney Bus over to Cable Beach. People said is was nice. But it was humid, hot and the kids were exhausted from everything a few days prior. I also wanted to take a ferry to Atlantis, just to look ($3 each person each way), but that was a lot for the kids also. It looked impressive from the ship. There were fireworks form a barge in the ocean, around Atlantis, and over the government buildings in Nassau that night. When you get into Nassau, many many people catch you to take up your time (what I say) to braid your hair (expensive), give you a carriage ride ($30 each I believe and they fly through the streets so they can get someone else to ride...), also cab service. We said "no thank you" probably 50 times before we could get to the Harley Davidson Store on the waterfront. They even catch you downtown with the same thing. Several approached us to buy their "wares" like by putting a bracelet on us and saying they would give it to us, my husband and I gave ours back and we were leaving, then another came over and said to give him money for them. I told him, politely, that were I come from, if you say I am giving you this, you actually get to keep it for free. I expected all of this from others who had been. Even if you take a picture with a "local", they do the same and want money. We did go to a bank and exchange US money for Bohemian currency for scrapbooks. I didn't think things were priced cheaper there like many have said. they still had Gucci handbags for $300, and shoes $270, etc. Someone said they had a more original place to buy handmade goods near the bridge to Paradise Island, but we did not catch a bus. The girls were tired - off to the ship's pool to cool off.
The rest of the trip we ate pizza (no charge) or in the Windjammer due to a huge selection of food plus they were much quicker than the dining room. I did miss the waiters and talking with our table guests, but there was so much we wanted to do and the main dining room took too long. Many activities poolside in the evening. The girls and I danced and had a ball one night. They had all kinds of contests, but some I did not think appropriate for our children so we went elsewhere exploring.
The day at sea was cloudy. We could see Freeport from a distance. Not really any beautiful sunsets due to clouds/haze. The girls swam in the rain, we lounged around watching. Later, the girls wanted to go to Adventure Ocean. There was a children's talent show oh yea and a 4th of July parade throughout the ship.
All in all, it was an experience. I'm not sure that I would spend that amount of money again. Our cruise was about $1700 for 2 adult 2 children. We didn't know there was a parking fee for your car, $45 entire trip, photos and postcards purchased on board about $150. You can buy a "soft drink" card for unlimited cokes, etc. You pay for all mixed or virgin drinks. The forward deck was for teens, but I would not let mine go there if I had teens. There are only rails between them and the sea and if they are playing around, I can see them going overboard. Some of the rails at other places on the ship are solid and I felt better with those. Many places you could go for quiet. It really didn't seem like over 2,000 people on board. (Only during the day at sea, then the pools were packed.)
When we arrived back to
Port Canaveral, they color coded your departure and you wait for your color to
be called. Everyone was supposed to wait in the appropriate lounges, but many
stayed on the departure deck and sat in the floor, which make it hard on those
trying to leave. Another long line off and through customs then waiting to pick
up all of the baggage. A porter helped us carry luggage to the parking garage
and we loaded up and went home.
A cruise was fun (once), maybe with children a bit harder. Four in a room is a bit overcrowded (I wouldn't put 4 adults in one cabin for anything!!!!!)